Deductions begin at home

Whether co-drivers in the truck or keepers of the homefront, wives of owner-operators are usually the family bookkeepers as well. One of our most important tasks is making sure we don’t let home-based tax deductions slip through the cracks.

Valuable deductions are often overlooked because cash register receipts aren’t saved. As soon as you get home from shopping, highlight any truck items purchased, such as paper towels or office supplies. “When you spend $100, it’s easy to forget that five or 10 spent for the truck,” says accountant Kevin Rutherford of Whiteline Business & Financial Services. “But it all adds up.”

Mileage in your personal vehicle when buying supplies for the truck, banking for your business or driving to the carrier’s office is also tax-deductible. Don’t forget trips to pick up truck parts or to deliver the truck to the repair shop. A small spiral notebook in each personal vehicle used for business is the easiest way to keep a record. Note the date, purpose and number of miles for each business trip.

Of course, your trucker’s on-the-road purchases of small items, such as windshield fluid and log books, are just as important. Ask him to make a habit of noting tax-deductible items on the receipt and making sure the store name, city, state and date are shown. Designate a secure place to keep receipts in the truck and in the house. Stephanie Richardson of Tyler, Texas, newly married to a trucker, finds that a soft pencil case is the ideal receipt holder for the truck. “All he has to do is slip the receipts inside and zip it up so he doesn’t lose them.”

When tax season arrives, your efforts to save receipts and record mileage will pay off. You’re only hurting yourself – and giving an early Christmas present to the Internal Revenue Service – if you don’t bother to keep up with all expenses.

Jane Connors, who drove team
for three years with her husband,
an independent owner-operator,
now manages their business at home.
E-mail her at [email protected]